How to Recognise If You're Drinking Too Much... And What You Can Do About It.
In Partnership with In-dependence.
Did you know that in the UK more than one in three adults drank more alcohol to cope with lockdown restrictions last year? Many of us here in Guernsey also turned to alcohol to deal with the feelings of stress and loneliness that surfaced as a result of the pandemic. Under the circumstances, an extra gin at the end of a long week or a glass of wine after a stressful day of homeschooling isn’t anything to worry about, right? As a general rule, no, but drinking is such a socially acceptable part of our culture, a way to unwind and have fun, that it can be difficult to recognise when it goes from drinking for pleasure to having a drinking problem. So to help you make an informed decision, we have partnered with local support service In-dependence to bring you a little information and guidance.
10 Signs that You Are Drinking Too Much
You probably know lots of people who drink just as much as you do, and they don’t seem to have a drinking problem. But it’s not just about how much or how often you drink. Problem drinking looks different in each person. And it’s also not about losing control over life either. Many people are able to get through the day and fulfil their responsibilities, yet still experience problems with alcohol.
If you recognise some of these signs, it could be time to consider whether your drinking has become a problem:
- You find it difficult to stop after having your first drink.
- You feel guilty or remorseful after drinking.
- You make excuses for drinking.
- You need to drink to cope with stress, anxiety or difficult life events.
- You are irritable or experiencing mood swings more often than normal.
- You have episodes of memory loss due to drinking.
- You can’t do things that would normally be expected of you.
- You can feel the effects of alcohol withdrawal if you haven’t had a drink for a while.
- Your health is suffering due to drinking.
- You find yourself being constantly preoccupied with thoughts about drinking.
...and 10 Things You Can Do About It
Here are some tips and suggestions to help you to cut back on your drinking.
- Work Out Your Why: First of all, think about why your drinking is worrying you. Doing this reminds us what is important to us, it gives us the information about why we want to change and helps to keep us motivated about change.
- Keep a Diary: If you aren't sure of the amount you are drinking it might be helpful to keep a drink diary. Noting down what you drink, how much, and when you drink can be really useful when it comes to the specifics of alcohol use. You’ll be able to notice patterns in drinking, which is helpful if you are thinking about making a change.
- Distract Yourself: If you notice there are times when you usually reach for a drink, is there something else you could do instead? Think about how you might be able to delay or avoid having that drink?
- Don't Buy Alcohol: For some people, it can be enough to simply not put alcohol on the shopping list... you can't have a drink if there is nothing available.
- Empty Your Cupboards: An alternative is to simply keep less in the house. This might help you to reduce or limit your drinking, or help you to work towards a goal of drinking a certain amount in a given time period.
- Start Soft: Some people have said that delaying a drink by drinking a carbonated non-alcohol drink has helped them achieve an alcohol-free day.
- Listen To The Chatter: Think about what you say to yourself about drinking. Is your internal conversation helping or hindering change? Do you find that you justify how much you drink to yourself? Do your thoughts make drinking more likely to happen than not? “I’m not that bad, it’s not as though I have a massive problem with alcohol. I’ll just have one tonight.” Does that sound familiar? If you have decided to have a set number of alcohol-free days and you’re thinking like this on the first day, it’s important to challenge this thinking and to remind yourself of why you started to think about change.
- Write It Down: Write down every reason that you want to make a change. This can help to reinforce your reasons for change.
- Know When to Reach Out: If you have tried to make changes, and it’s still proving challenging maybe it’s time to reach out. In-dependence will work with you to make decisions about change. They understand the importance of confidentiality and you’ll be treated with respect, not judgement.
- Recognise When You Need Help: If you have been drinking heavily for a prolonged period, it is important you do not just cut out alcohol completely as this can be dangerous for your health. If this is you, contact your GP or contact In-dependence.
If you are concerned that you, or someone close to you is drinking too much, get in touch with In-dependence - they offer free and confidential support to locals whose lives are affected by alcohol, drugs or gambling.